5-axis machining offers unlimited possibilities when it comes to the different piece sizes and intricate shapes you are able to process. The term “5 axis” refers to the total number of possible directions where the cutting implement can move. On a 5-axis machining machine, the rotating cutting tool rotates over the X, Y, and Z axes and also rotates around the A and B axis to reach the workpiece in any direction. This type of machine is often used in production line production as it offers a speedy method of producing intricate products that can withstand high levels of pressure.
In the past, 5-axis was commonly referred to as “Gearing” or “Scalpel” machines because the tools utilized in this process were manually turned by hand. As time went on, automated programs were developed to aid the operator who controlled the operation of the 5-axis cutting tools. One of the most popular types of automated machinery found in modern day 5-axis machining centers is the plasma cutters. Plasma cutters are generally used to cut hard materials such as metals, ceramics, plastics, and fiberglass.
Another popular type of modern machining applications is laser machining or laser CNC machining machines. These machines use lasers or infra-red light to help with cutting, polishing, etching and grinding. Lasers are typically used for detailed and intricate cuts as they are able to create a sharp edge without overheating the material. On the other hand, CNC machines are typically used to create very precise repetitive pieces that feature both linear and rotational axes. In addition to using lasers for CNC machine operations, computer numerical control (CNC) programs are also being used in many CNC machining operations.
The majority of modern equipment now available in the CNC arena operates using one of two different axis systems: the rotary or the two-dimensional axis system. The rotary axis machines utilize hydraulic hoses, slide rails, and hydraulic pistons to move the work piece between different axes. The two-dimensional axis machines use a screw threaded spindle and a stationary cam to manipulate the material between axes. Some examples of two-dimensional axis machines are lathe/cutting machines and router machines. Both of these types of machines typically incorporate tilting capabilities for greater precision.
All modern CNC machines operate with two operating axes. The X and Y axis machines use the same type of computer numerical control (CNC) software to help with performing operations. These CNC software programs are also responsible for setting up the machine’s operation, as well as defining its operation parameters. Each axis machine has its own set of operations, which are optimized to best get the result that the user is after. Common CNC software programs include CAM software, AutoCAD, Envil, Intellicad (and its variations), and PC-Arista.
5-axis machining is not limited to just horizontal and vertical axes. Many CNC machines are designed to handle rotation, as well as other types of rotation, such as horizontal and vertical ones. These are particularly popular in applications where a product needs to be manufactured at different sizes, from a small, portable product to a large-scale, high-rise office machine.